Harry Christophers

Conductor

Harry Christophers

Harry Christophers is known internationally as founder and conductor of The Sixteen as well as a regular guest conductor for many of the major symphony orchestras and opera companies worldwide. He has directed The Sixteen and its orchestra, The Symphony of Harmony and Invention, throughout Europe, America and the Far East. He has performed at some of the world's most prestigious festivals including Salzburg, Mostly Mozart in New York, the BBC Promenade Concerts, the Prague Spring Festival and in Vienna's Musikverein, Sydney Opera House and Tokyo Opera City, gaining a distinguished reputation for his work in Renaissance, Baroque and 20th century music.

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Song of the Nativity

Song of the Nativity


Bullard, A:

And all the stars looked down

Chilcott:

Shepherd's Carol

Davies, Walford:

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Gardner, John:

When Christ was born of Mary free

Ireland:

The Holy Boy

Jackson, Gabriel:

The Christ-child

Lauridsen:

O magnum mysterium

MacMillan:

The Strathclyde Motets: O Radiant Dawn

McDowall:

Now may we singen, a carol for Christmas

Ord:

Adam lay ybounden

Roth, A:

Song of the Shepherds

Rutter:

There is a flower

Skempton:

Adam lay y-bounden

Todd:

My Lord Has Come

trad.:

The Saviour's Work

A Gallery Carol

Children's Song of the Nativity

Somerset Wassail

This endris night

Christmas Eve

Dutch Carol

Warlock:

Bethlehem Down


The Sixteen contrasts the dramatic intensity of music by some of today’s most admired composers with such traditional and modern carols as Boris Ord’s Adam lay ybounden and Henry Walford Davies’ version of O little town of Bethlehem. Much-loved modern classics including John Rutter’s There is a flower, Morten Lauridsen’s O magnum mysterium and James MacMillan’s O radiant dawn also appear on this beautiful album and there are many others which, in the course of time, will also become classics; every one of them by their unashamed simplicity, captures the joy and sincerity of this most wonderful of seasons. This album provides a perfect peaceful and uplifting antidote to the hectic pre-Christmas rush.

“From the gorgeously shaped performance of Morten Lauridsen’s modern classic O magnum mysterium which opens the programme, to the urgent, ardent account of James MacMillan’s O radiant dawn which closes it, The Sixteen give a masterclass in the art of unaccompanied singing, and in close emotional engagement with the pieces chosen” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 *****

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month

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Edmund Rubbra: Choral Works

Edmund Rubbra: Choral Works


Rubbra:

Tenebrae Motets, Op. 72: First, Second & Third Nocturns

Missa Cantuariensis, Op. 59

Three Motets, Op. 76

Five Motets for unaccompanied choir, Op. 37


The distinctive style of Edmund Rubbra’s music is unmistakable – his love of counterpoint, his sense of tonality, and his clever working of melody make him stand out from many of his contemporaries. His writing, whilst harmonically challenging and vocally taxing, is also intensely personal and highly charged with emotion - at times mystical, at others seriously dramatic.

Though he is best-known for his orchestral works, choral music was a constant throughout his career, and a genre of particular importance to a composer of strong spiritual conviction.

In this beautiful new recording The Sixteen explores some of his little-known choral music including the extraordinary Tenebrae Nocturns and the Missa Cantuariensis with its fabulous double-choir writing.

This album also features the first recording of the Responses from the Missa Cantuariensis.

“This is a disc which anybody remotely interested in Rubbra will want to purchase.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2016 ****

“well-nigh flawless renderings from The Sixteen under Harry Christophers…high-class advocacy of some enormously rewarding repertoire” Classical Ear, October 2016 ****

“Christophers and the Sixteen make a convincing case for a reappraisal of his choral music...Each piece is sung with the purity and sincerity we have come to expect from one of the UK’s most treasured and respected vocal ensembles.” The Observer, 11th September 2016 ****

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The Old Colony Collection

The Old Colony Collection


 

Hark! The vesper hymn is stealing

Avison:

Sound the loud timbrel

Chapple:

I waited patiently for the Lord

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord

O come, let us sing unto the Lord

Handel:

Messiah: He Was Cut Off Out of the Land...But Thou Didst Not Leave His Soul in Hell

Messiah: Lift up your heads

Israel in Egypt, HWV54: The Lord Shall Reign

Kent, J:

Hear my prayer

Who is this that cometh from Edom?

Linley the elder:

Bow down Thine ear, O Lord

Mendelssohn:

Peace I leave with you

Mozart:

Almighty God when round Thy shrine

Webbe, the older:

When winds breathe soft


Whilst the names James Kent, Charles Avison or Samuel Webbe may not be familiar to today’s listeners, 200 years ago these composers and their works were prized for their singability, their musical evocations of the text, and their beautiful sonorities. Rarely recorded, and some works never before recorded, The Old Colony Collection contains a diverse array of compositions that were sung on both sides of the Atlantic and includes anthems and ‘glees’ as well as selections from Handel’s oratorios, and arrangements of works by Mozart. The selection of works chosen for this recording features some of the finest examples from this fabulous and extensive anthology.

“Christophers draws a gold-standard execution from his choir.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2016 ****

“Kent’s Hear my prayer is an exquisite opener. Two solo sopranos duet with Pucellian poise over a colourful continuo…music by Handel, Mendelssohn and Mozart was also popular fodder for the society…[and] all are stylishly sung here – possibly inauthentically so, given the original society’s well-documented breaks for ‘tuning’ of the alcoholic variety” Gramophone Magazine, November 2016

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Monteverdi: Messa a Quattro voci et salmi of 1650 Volume I

Monteverdi: Messa a Quattro voci et salmi of 1650 Volume I


Cavalli:

Magnificat

Monteverdi:

Dixit [Dominus] Primo

Confitebor tibi Domine, SV194

Lauda Jerusalem a 3, SV202

Nisi Dominus I à 3 voci & duoi violini

Laudate pueri Primo à 5 concertato

Laetaniae della Beata Vergine a 6 voci

Beatus vir a 7, SV195


Monteverdi’s sacred vocal compositions introduced the expression of powerful and personal emotions to the world of church music. Whilst it took him a number of years to find fulfilment in his work, Monteverdi was a revered composer within his lifetime and his music is regarded as revolutionary, marking the change from the Renaissance style to that of the Baroque. This album comprises some of the finest works from Monteverdi’s years as director of music at St Mark’s in Venice, published posthumously in 1650 as the Messa a quattro voci et salmi.

“The Sixteen’s complete recording of the Selva morale collection has been praised in these pages, and the qualities of ensemble are certainly worth noting here also. They are heard to best effect in the more richly scored pieces: the five-voice Laetatus sum and Laudate pueri, for example.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

“Ideal consort singing.” Sunday Times, 3rd April 2016

“The Sixteen’s performances have the group’s usual unfussy directness; the sound has no churchy over-resonance about it, either, so that the intricacies of the writing are always perfectly clear.” The Guardian, 24th March 2016 ***

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Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 83 & Violin Concerto in C major

Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 83 & Violin Concerto in C major


Haydn:

Symphony No. 7 in C major 'Le Midi'

Symphony No. 83 in G minor 'The Hen'

Violin Concerto No. 1 in C major, Hob.VIIa:1

Aisslinn Nosky (violin)


In a programme packed full of great drama and theatricality, Harry Christophers and the Handel and Haydn Society present a new live recording devoted to the master of the symphony. This disc showcases Haydn’s Symphony No. 7 Le midi which is amongst the most striking of his early symphonies and one of the very first the composer wrote as Kapellmeister to Prince Paul Anton Esterházy. It is set alongside the much later Paris Symphony No. 83 La poule, named as such because of its famous clucking dotted note motif. Completing the programme is the Violin Concerto in C major performed by H+H’s fiery and expressive Concertmaster, Aisslinn Nosky.

“[the Paris Symphony No. 83 is] a marvellously intense piece, and it gets a no-holds barred performance from Harry Christophers and the Handel and Haydn Society orchestra. They bring a fine sense of hushed expressiveness to the slow movement, too…its minor-tinged ending is lingeringly evocative” BBC Music Magazine, May 2016 ****

“This series, recorded live, is showing us that Haydn’s early symphonies are as daring and fresh in their own way as the latest. No 7 (1761) is a fine instance, with concertante roles for three string soloists. It and the pleasing C major violin concerto highlight Nosky’s elegant playing. Haydn’s art had evolved much by the time of ”La Poule” (No 83), deftly dashing in this reading.” Sunday Times, 24/01/2016

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Poetry in Music

Poetry in Music


Britten:

Hymn to St Cecilia, Op. 27

East, M:

When David Heard that Absalom was Slain

Gurney:

Since I believe in God the Father

Harris, W:

Faire is the Heaven

Bring us, O Lord God

Howells:

Take him, earth, for cherishing

MacMillan:

The Gallant Weaver

Pearsall:

Lay a garland

Ramsey, R:

When David heard

Rubbra:

Eternitie

Rubinstein, B:

There is a spirit

Tippett:

Dance, Clarion Air

Tomkins:

When David Heard

Weelkes:

When David Heard


Ruth Provost, Kirsty Hopkins, David Clegg, Jeremy Budd, Ben Davies, Julie Cooper, Edward McMullan, Mark Dobell

The Sixteen, Harry Christophers

Does music add substance to words or is music inspired by them? Songs of departure and farewell are deeply rooted in the great tradition of British choral music, nourished by ancient myths of testing journeys, wayside transformations and homecomings. The transcendent nature of music and the power of poetry to challenge and alter perceptions of reality – harnessed by English composers over many centuries – flow through a programme that invites contemplation of life and death, of love and loss, creation and eternity. In a journey covering six centuries of musical history, The Sixteen performs a cappella anthems with powerful texts by writers as varied as Edmund Spenser, Christopher Fry and W.H. Auden.

“It is clear that this is something really special. That specialness comes not just from the fact that The Sixteen elevate everything they perform through their opulent musicality and supreme clarity of tone, but from Harry Christophers’s intuitive grasp of the marriage of music and words.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2015

“the British composers represented here, covering five centuries, all chose distinguished texts and responded with extraordinary music...The performances are beautiful and brilliant.” New York Times, 25th November 2015

GGramophone Awards 2016

Shortlisted - Choral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2015

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Haydn: The Creation

Haydn: The Creation


Inspired by Haydn’s trips to England, where he first heard Handel’s oratorios, The Creation is widely considered Haydn’s crowning masterpiece. Set for three vocal soloists, four-part chorus, and a large Classical orchestra, there seems little doubt that Haydn wanted a big sound (by the standard of his day) for this work. Based on both the biblical Book of Genesis and Milton’s Paradise Lost, the oratorio was premiered in the US by the Handel and Haydn Society in 1819. Harry Christophers says: “Haydn’s music is always a joy to perform but with The Creation he excels himself allowing soloists, chorus and period orchestra to revel in vivid word painting, both vocal and instrumental. Can there be a more consistently happy work than The Creation? Feel free to smile at his genius.”

Handel and Haydn Society is America's oldest continuously operating arts organisation. Its Bicentennial celebration began with the 2014-2015 Season and continues into the 2015-2016 Season. Harry Christophers has been Artistic Director since 2008.

“an exceptional account of the oratorio from all points of view…but what is wholly exceptional is the diction of both soloists and choir; you can hear every word without referring to the text printed in the booklet…the choir also impresses with its bright, fresh tone, while the orchestra supplies distinctive colour and vibrancy; their playing is consistently alert” BBC Music Magazine, February 2016 *****

“both steeped in tradition and aware of period manners. The choral and orchestral forces are optimum for a piece from the late 18th century, and three stylish British soloists (Sarah Tynan, Jeremy Ovenden, Matthew Brook) make a strong case for a performance sung in English.” Sunday Times, 27th September 2015

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice

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The Complete Traditional Christmas Carols Collection

The Complete Traditional Christmas Carols Collection

Volumes 1 & 2


Darke:

In the Bleak Midwinter

Gauntlett:

Once in Royal David's city

Goss, J:

See amid the winter's snow

Gruber, F:

Silent Night

Holst:

In the Bleak Mid-winter (Cranham)

Kirkpatrick:

Away in a Manger

Kocher:

As with gladness men of old

Mendelssohn:

Hark! the herald angels sing

Ord:

Adam lay ybounden

Poston:

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

trad.:

The First Nowell

Sussex Carol

While Shepherds Watched

I saw three ships

Angels from the Realms Of Glory

O little town of Bethlehem

Rocking

In Dulci Jubilo

Ding dong! merrily on high

Good King Wenceslas

Deck the Hall

The Holly and the Ivy

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

Coventry Carol

Of the Father's heart begotten

This is the truth sent from above

Gabriel’s Message

Masters in this Hall

Past Three a Clock

Gloucester Wassail (Wassail, wassail all over the town)

In Dulci Jubilo

O come, o come, Emmanuel

Cherry Tree Carol

It came upon the midnight clear

Personent hodie

Down in yon Forest

Wexford Carol

Joys seven

Unto Us a Boy is Born!

Vaughan Williams:

Wither's rocking hymn

Wade, J F:

O come, all ye faithful


Due to popular demand, CORO has packaged The Sixteen’s two most popular Christmas titles into one double CD set. The ensemble’s Traditional Christmas Carol Collections Volumes I and II feature some of our best-known and best-loved Christmas carols in arrangements with traditional harmonies and original words. Favourites include In the bleak midwinter, Silent night and See amid the winter’s snow. There is also an abundance of festive music that deserves to be better known and The Sixteen includes some rediscovered treasures in this collection such as Masters in this Hall, Past three a clock and Gloucestershire Wassail.

“Simple, sincere and thoroughly engaging.” American Record Guide

“The Sixteen sounds as crisp and refreshing as a frosty morning...A wide and interesting choice of festive favourites, performed with precise, unsentimental warmth and a sense of occasion.” Classic FM Magazine, January 2011 ****

“If you really want to listen to carols at home or in the gym, you won’t go wrong with these pristine performances.” Financial Times, 4th December 2010 ***

“beautiful with a capital B.” The Times, 17th December 2010

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Palestrina Volume 6

Palestrina Volume 6


Palestrina:

Missa L'Homme Armé 5vv

Surge amica mea, speciosa mea (from Canticum canticorum)

Dilectus meus mihi

Peccantem me quotidie

Surgam et circuibo civitatem

Parce mihi, Domine

Si ambulavero in medio tribulationis

Tribulationes civitatum

Super flumina Babylonis

Tribularer si nescirem

plus:

SONG OF SONGS: nos. 16, 17 & 18


The Sixteen continues its acclaimed series of discs exploring the work of Italian Renaissance master, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. An enormous body of sacred works, including over 100 Masses, rightly earned Palestrina the title of ‘the prince and father of music’ and ‘the saviour of church music’. His legacy has impacted sacred music worldwide for over 400 years and composers throughout the centuries have studied and learned from his gift of writing exquisite polyphony.

Central to this sixth disc is Palestrina’s unjustly neglected 5-voice L’Homme armé Mass. Written before 1570, it is no mere technical showpiece, but contains music of the highest quality. It is accompanied on this disc by a group of penitential and devotional motets and Offertories on well known texts such as Parce mihi Domine, Si ambulavero in medio tribulationis, Tribulationes civitatem, De profundis, and Super flumina Babylonis, eliciting from Palestrina his best and most moving music. Three further Song of Songs motets in the Sixteen’s ongoing complete survey complete the CD.

“Christophers artfully moulds and heightens the contours of the polyphonic lines, which ebb and flow in a liquid tapesty of sound...The Sixteen's rich, buttery sound is particularly effective for the sensual Song of Songs settings, which brim with Counter-Reformation fervour.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2015 *****

“This sort of mood suits The Sixteen's brightly focused choral sound, and Harry Christophers's direction is unobtrusive but telling: the terraced approach to the final 'Kyrie' is a case in point, and the flowering into six voices in the concluding 'Agnus Dei' is particularly lovely.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

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Purcell: The Indian Queen

Purcell: The Indian Queen


Purcell:

The Indian Queen, Z630

Purcell, D:

The Masque of Hymen


Julie Cooper, Kirsty Hopkins, Jeremy Budd, Mark Dobell, Matthew Long, Ben Davies, Eamonn Dougan & Stuart Young

The Sixteen, Harry Christophers

Henry Purcell was a brilliant music dramatist and in The Indian Queen there is a plethora of detail, colour and characterisation to be explored in every symphony, air and dance. Purcell's instrumental writing leaps off the page with string writing that is second to none and a wealth of variety capped by exquisite writing for trumpet, oboes and recorders.

Based on Dryden’s play, Henry Purcell’s music from The Indian Queen deals with the conflict between the Mexican and Peruvians and principally with Queen Zempoalla. The Indian Queen is a classic story of love and war and, as with all good stories, things don’t go quite as planned for the eponymous Queen…

There is so much exceptional vocal music to revel in but none better than the extraordinary recitative You twice ten hundred deities for the magician Ismeron which opens Act III, and was described by the historian Charles Burney as “the best piece of recitative in our language”.

Like Mozart and Schubert, Henry Purcell lived all too short a life – he lived just over 30 years – and for that reason it was left to his brother Daniel to complete The Indian Queen. Daniel was no Henry but his final Hymeneal masque allows a little light relief. Act V, which was the last music that Henry wrote, is a perfect Didoesque ending to The Indian Queen proper and just proves how we as music lovers suffer when these geniuses die young.

“Christophers leads a trim, affectionate performance of Purcell’s last (unfinished) semi-opera. The musical forces are small and flexible, and though some previous recordings bring more star power to bear among the soloists, Purcell’s bountiful score is never short-changed.” Financial Times, 28th February 2015 ****

“It’s a delicious 72 minutes of Restoration wit and lyrical charm, performed gracefully by Harry Christophers’ the Sixteen. There are stirring trumpet tunes, one magnificent bass scene (sonorously delivered by Eamonn Dougan), and fine solos from rising young singers such as Kirsty Hopkins and Matthew Long.” The Times, 28th February 2015 ****

“Henry’s music has dwindled to one song, but his contributions are of consistently finer quality...than his relative’s. Christophers has less famous names than Hogwood did (Kirkby, Ainsley, Finley), but Matthew Long, Eamonn Dougan and Julie Cooper’s solos are all outstanding, and their voices blend superbly in the choruses.” Sunday Times, 29th March 2015

“A fine scene for the magician Ismeron...is suavely done by Eamonn Dougan. The band play adroitly in a few curtain tunes and the Overture...High tenor Matthew Long dispatches Fame's 'Begone, curst fiends of Hell' impressively...this is an engaging advocacy of Purcell's final and seemingly incomplete opera.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

Coro - COR16129

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